Water Wonders

Did You Know…?

  • …that pure water consists of only two different atoms, two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen attached to each other at an angle of 1050?
  • …that a single drop of water contains 1,700,000,000,000,000,000 (1.7 quintillion) molecules?
  • …that the earth is a closed system—there is no more freshwater on earth now than there was thousands of years ago?
  • …that water is the most plentiful substance on earth, covering 70 percent of its surface?
  • …that there are 326 million cubic miles of water on earth?
  • …that every living thing needs water to live, and every living thing is made of at least some water?
  • …that water is the only nutrient needed by the body every day?
  • …that during a lifetime, you’ll drink about 16,000 gallons of water?
  • …that dehydration can cause fatigue and you may not even know you are dehydrated?
  • …that water is the only substance on earth found naturally in three forms—solid, liquid, and gas?
  • …that it is estimated that 3,400 cubic miles of water are locked within the bodies of living things?
  • …that in the United States, approximately 500,000 tons of pollutants pour into lakes and rivers each day, our primary source of potable water?
  • …that approximately 1,000 gallons of water are required to grow and process one pound of food we eat?

Water Wonders

What could be simpler than water? Pure and plain, water consists of only two different atoms, two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen, abbreviated H2O.

But there is nothing simple about water.

Can you imagine that just by chance its three molecules (2 H and 1 0) are attached to form an angle of 1050? As with many of the tiniest parts in nature, this fact is no accident but a clear evidence of intelligence behind it. Although water is simple in structure, the physical and chemical properties are extraordinarily complex. And we have no way to create more water to add to our earth’s supply. Earth is a closed system, which means that the water supply is constant; it does not increase or decrease.

Our Creator saw fit to provide us with an ample water supply, but if we abuse it, contaminate it and waste it, shortages will occur.

Pure water is odorless, tasteless and almost colorless. Viewed at great depth, it has a tint of blue. But pure water is rare in nature. Due to its ability to dissolve substances in large amounts, water combines with a variety of other elements even as it falls from the sky. Heavy rain and fog are our Creator’s arrangement for cleansing the air we breathe, as well as replenishing our water supply. As water percolates through the soil and rocks, larger contaminants are removed from it. Even muddy water can become crystal clear by the time it reaches the deep underground aquifers.

But the water as it filters through layers of rock and soil is doing more than just leaving behind large particles it accumulated from the air. It is reacting with minerals in the soil and rock which, in turn, combine with acids, metals, and a variety of elements, producing what myriad varieties of plants and animals need to reproduce and flourish.

Some of the rainwater that flows into shallow wells, lakes and streams may not be completely filtered and may contain other substances, such as sewage, industrial waste, large amounts of nitrogen compounds and chlorides from human and animal waste. Yet, rivers provide the major source of potable (suitable for drinking) water—which is only about 1/10,000 of 1% of earth’s water supply (only about 300 cubic miles of earth’s 326,000,000 cubic miles of water. The ocean consists of 97% of earth’s water which, of course, is not suitable for human consumption, yet the composition of ocean water is delicately balanced to support a tremendous variety of plant and animal life which could not live in fresh water-another of God’s provisions for life on earth.)

Properties of Water

Water exists in three states: solid, liquid and gas. Under normal atmospheric pressure (14.7 lbs. per square inch), pure water freezes at 320 F, boils at 2120 F, has maximum density at 390 F, and unlike most liquids, expands upon freezing. It also evaporates, adding moisture to the air. While we give little thought to these properties of water, it is because of these properties that life exists. Boil water, freeze it, drink it, or pour it out, the properties of water (as well as its quantity) remain unchanged.

Suppose that water, like most other liquids, became less dense when frozen. Lakes in colder climates would be frozen solid and all the little living creatures in the lake would die-because the water, as it froze, would sink to the bottom. But because water as it freezes becomes less dense, ice floats as it forms, making an insulating layer on top of the water which helps to prevent heat loss, allowing life to thrive beneath.

Because water can be easily converted to steam by raising its temperature, it has many uses for energy, including cooking, powering steam turbines for the production of electricity, or for driving a locomotive down the track with many tons in tow. And since water evaporates easily as air passes over it, we have natural air conditioning, as well as precipitation to water our crops and replenish the earth’s underground water supply.

Water Climbs

Have you ever wondered how water manages to climb to the top of trees like the giant Sequoia, for example, that towers over 275 feet into the sky?

As water evaporates from the leaves, water is drawn upward to replace it. But how? A water pump, using even a perfect vacuum cannot pull water up more than a little over 30 feet. That leaves about 240 feet to go if a perfect vacuum could be formed—which it can’t in a tree.

Is water by some means pushed to the top by pressure? It has been calculated that this would require a pressure of about 100 lbs. per square inch. Think what that kind of pressure would do to the bark on the tree! Even a combination of vacuum and pressure still comes far short of moving water from ground level to the top of the tree. Yet by some means water climbs the entire distance, or the tree could not grow to that height.

Not only must the water get to the top of a tree but it must carry all the nutrients a tree needs as it climbs.

Scientists have explained that the process of water climbing upward in a tree is done by capillary action, that this special process is possible due to water’s singular properties of adhesion,1 cohesion2 and surface tension.3 These terms are all very closely related, and all have to do with how the molecules bond together. But none are a total explanation of what happens.

The Encyclopedia Britannica explains: The “upward movement of sap in trees is… called the transpiration-cohesion hypothesis.…The forces of cohesion between water molecules and the forces of adhesion between water molecules and the walls of the vessel cells [have a tensile strength of at least] 440 pounds per square inch. This is high enough to permit a thin column of water to be lifted to the top of any tree without breaking the column.

It is further explained that the evaporation of water from the leaves causes the sap (a water mixture) to be pulled up the tree to the top. But bear in mind that this is only a hypothesis. The fact is, no one really knows how sap reaches the top of a tree 275 feet tall!

While we can only hypothesize how this process works—and it happens all the time—our All-Wise Creator knows, and designed the tree to take advantage of His laws of nature long before any human mind even tried to figure it out.